There are various opinions on how much water to drink a day. We know that health professionals recommend drinking enough water, especially when exercising or during hot weather condition.
But, do you know what the right amount of water to drink is? The basic recommendation of health authorities is at least eight 8 ounce glasses that is equivalent to half a gallon. However, other health professionals recommend sipping water constantly all through the day to avoid dehydration.
According to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink more water which is at least 13 cups, while 9 cups of water for women.
The 8×8 rule is the basic recommendation, but it’s not well-researched details. Sixty percent of the body’s weight is water and each part and system of the body requires water to function well.
There are different factors to consider when determining the right water intake including age, sex, level of activity, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
The recommended water intake for adults 19 years old and above is 2.7 liters and 3.7 liters for women and men respectively (1). This is the overall amount of fluid intake a day that includes anything that you consume containing water.
The recommended amount of water intake for kids greatly depends on age. Boys and girls within the age range of 4 and 8 years should drink at least 5 cups a day. Between 9 to 13 years old, the water intake must be 7 to 8 cups and 8 to 11 cups for those 14 to 18 years old.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have a different recommendation. Pregnant women should drink about 80 ounces of water a day while breastfeeding women must consume 104 ounces a day (2).
Other considerations have varying recommendations. If you’re doing exercise for longer hours, you should add about 2.5 cups of water to the 8×8 rule. People living in places where hot climate prevail and elevated places more than 8,200 feet above sea level should increase the amount of water intake more than the basic recommendation.
When a person suffers from vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, most likely your body experiences more fluid loss than usual that’s why it is suggested to drink more water or adding beverages with electrolytes to replenish the lost electrolytes from your body.
|Demographics||Daily recommended amount of water (from drinks)|
|children 4 to 8 years old||5 cups, or 40 total ounces|
|children 9 to 13 years old||7 to 8 cups, or 56 to 64 total ounces|
|children 14 to 18 years old||8 to 11 cups, or 64 to 88 total ounces|
|men, 19 years and older||13 cups, or 104 total ounces|
|women, 19 years and older||9 cups, or 72 total ounces|
|pregnant women||10 cups, or 80 total ounces|
|breastfeeding women||13 cups, or 104 total ounces|
How would you know if you’re getting enough water?
Your body manifests clear signs if you’re not getting enough water such as a headache, dizziness, and dry mouth. Likewise, the color of the urine and the frequency of urination can also explain if you’re well hydrated.
Drinking enough amount of water is important not only for the body and its organs to function properly but there are also other health benefits such as:
- Drinking water keeps the body temperature within normal range.
- It cushions and lubricates the joints as well as protects the spine and other tissues.
- It helps smooth elimination of waste products through bowel movement, sweat, and urine.
- It keeps the skin look healthy.
- Water is zero-calorie that’s why it is effective for weight management.
The risks of drinking too much and too little of water
Our brain has the so-called thirst control center that regulates the water intake. It sends a signal to the brain to stop feeling thirsty once you drink water and before it absorbs into the bloodstream. When you drink too much water, it over-rides the thirst control center.
Drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia that is dangerous to your health. The electrolytes in the blood become diluted with the extra water thus may result to decrease in sodium levels. Symptoms of hyponatremia include:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Muscle cramps, spasms, or weakness
It is uncommon to develop hyponatremia, but children and those with smaller build are at higher risk as well as those active people. To prevent this condition, it is important to drink the sports drink that contains electrolytes and sodium.
On the other hand, if you’re consuming too little amount of water, your body will be at high risk of dehydration. Keep in mind that your body loses fluids through urine and sweat. Symptoms of dehydration include the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Seldom urination
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Lack of tears
Dehydration may lead to mood changes, constipation, confusion, shock, and kidney stone formation. By drinking more water, mild dehydration can be prevented. But, in case of severe dehydration, you should seek immediate medical intervention such as intravenous fluids and salts.
Maintaining the proper water balance is significant for us to live. That’s why it is important to know the right amount of water intake per day. You may feel thirsty when the total water content is below the normal level. As long as you depend on your thirst instinct, you can easily manage your water intake. In fact, even the 8×8 rule follows the thirst commands.
You can also do self-experimentation because no one can tell how much water a person needs. The amount of water intake depends on the individual.
Aside from drinking water, you can also stay hydrated by consuming foods that have a higher content of water such as watermelon, green peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, berries, celery, and radish.
To ensure that you’re drinking enough water, you should bring a water bottle wherever you go. Focus on fluids and it does not necessarily mean drinking plain water alone to suffice the hydration needs.
Add some zest to your water by adding lime juice or fresh lemon. If you dine out, drink water instead of other refreshments. You can also reduce consumption of coffee because it contains caffeine that is known as a diuretic. Likewise, sugary drinks can increase the blood sugar level and calories, thus they should be avoided.
Keep things simple. Drink when you’re thirsty. Observe your body because everything is manifested and showed in the appearance of your body.
Janice Thompson is a nutritionist. She loves to share her healthy lifestyle and diet tips.